Perusing the wedding registry, I settled on gifts suitable for a remote giver. The happy couple are in the USA, and I, of course, am not. Fortunately, there were several options on the mighty Amazon. A few clicks, and boom! All done.

Unbeknownst to me, I had awoken a giant compliance machine. While I went about the rest of my task list, flags were being raised, transactions reversed and “stops” put in place. Next time I opened my mail client, I was deluged with automated mail from Amazon. The upshot was that the purchase looked unlikely to be genuine - I assume because it was on .com, not a suffix that I often use, buying an item that doesn't match my profile. So, anti-fraud had swung into action. Pretty impressive really. I was given instructions how to unlock my account, change my password and verify myself through one-time passwords sent to my various devices. Obedient chap that I am, I followed the instructions.

Bravo Amazon! I thought.

Having now reset everything, I made a decision that I fear I may regret. I tried to buy the gift again. This time, the machine was properly upset. It shut everything down again, firing off stern e-mails like bullets. To reset this time, I needed to make a telephone call. I was a little irked that I had to call a US number, from Cyprus, but hey, what can you do?

Having navigated the option tree, I got through to a lovely fellow, in India, I think. We completed a merry identification dance, involving some fabulous phonetic spelling. “Sierra, Papa” I said. “C for Sierra and D for Dapa?” He replied. What japes we had.

“As you have made no purchases for a long time, I can’t reset your account. You can go ahead an make a new one.”

“In actual fact, old boy, I made two purchases just today, but you cancelled them. That’s rather the issue at hand, don’t you think?”

“You will need to use a different e-mail address.” Obviously, I was making limited progress.

“Will I still be able to access my account at and .de? Because I use those regularly.”

“Oh yes, sir. No problem. Can I help you with anything else today?”


“Thank you for calling and blessings on your day.” With that, he was gone.

Call me a sceptic, but I thought I’d just check. Yep. All access to my Amazon account via any suffix was closed down.

On Twitter, I had another jolly chat, ultimately resulting in a UK number to call. Naturally, it routed back to the same call centre that I’d already spoken to, and I got to dance the identification foxtrot again.

Eventually, we got to the nub of the matter. “Sir, I have sent an e-mail to the investigations team, who will be in touch with you in 24 / 48 hours.”

Overall, 3 lengthy international phone calls, had got me to a point where an e-mail had been sent to another department. “Excellent. May I have that e-mail address please?” (I’m a smart cookie, you know.)

“Sorry, sir. It’s internal only.”

I bet it is.

So - for the moment the vast library of content that I have bought from Amazon lies tantalising beyond my grasp, and my online shopping is curtailed…perhaps not a bad thing after all…

Update: Four days after being locked out, I made another attempt to be reinstated. I was put through to a charming woman who quizzed me expertly and turned everything back on in a flash. Phew! The world's bazaar is open to me once more.

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